7 reasons to give up on being a “good” person

We all strive to be “good” people, don’t we?

Sometimes, it can feel like a constant battle. Trying to maintain a saintly demeanor, always putting others first, and never stepping on any toes.

And for what?

You guessed it… little acknowledgement and more expectations.

It can be exhausting, feeling like you’re constantly trying to fit into this mold of goodness, especially when it seems like no one appreciates it.

You’re not alone in feeling this way.

Many of us are on this treadmill of goodness, feeling underappreciated and overworked.

But here’s a thought – maybe this isn’t the right approach. Maybe we’re setting ourselves up for constant disappointment and burnout.

Today, I’m going to share seven reasons why giving up on being a “good” person might just be the best thing you can do for yourself.

1) Being “good” is subjective

Let’s take a moment and think about what it means to be a “good” person. The term “good” is highly subjective – it varies dramatically across different cultures, societies, and even from person to person. What one person views as being good might be viewed as reprehensible by another.

If you’re going to live your life, it’s crucial to understand that your definition of “good” is not universal. It’s shaped by your upbringing, your experiences, and the context in which you live.

It’s vital to let go of the illusion that there’s a universally agreed-upon definition of “good.” There isn’t. Your actions are judged based on varying standards and expectations, many of which are impossible to meet.

If you can stop striving to be universally “good” and start defining your own ethics and values, your life will become more authentic and satisfying. You won’t feel the constant need to meet everyone’s expectations.

You will be able to give up on being a “good” person by others’ definitions and start being good by your own standards.

2) Being “good” can hold you back

This insight may seem paradoxical, but hear me out.

Striving to be a “good” person, as dictated by societal norms, often involves conforming to certain expectations and rules. This could mean suppressing your true desires, stifling your creativity, or even ignoring your instincts.

Consider a moment when you wanted to pursue a passion but didn’t because it wasn’t deemed “good” or acceptable. Or perhaps there was a time when you wanted to express a controversial opinion, but held back for fear of being judged.

“Goodness,” in such contexts, becomes a cage that keeps you from exploring your full potential. As the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

“One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”

In other words, embracing your quirks, passions, and unconventional ideas—things that may not always be perceived as “good”—can lead to remarkable creativity and innovation.

When you let go of the need to be perceived as good all the time, you free yourself. You allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes, to learn, and most importantly, to grow.

Now, I give less importance to being seen as good by others. Sometimes I make unconventional choices. Other times I follow my instinct instead of societal norms. I don’t worry about this anymore.

3) “Good” is often equated with self-sacrifice

This is another challenging point to grasp.

“Being good” is often tied up with the idea of self-sacrifice. We are taught that to be good, we must put others’ needs before our own. But the reality is, this concept is what leads many of us to burnout and resentment.

Let’s delve into this.

Consider a situation where you constantly give your time, energy, and resources to others. You do it because you believe it’s the “good” thing to do. But over time, you start feeling drained, unappreciated, perhaps even taken advantage of.

If you’re going to live a balanced life, it’s crucial to accept that constantly prioritizing others over yourself is not a sustainable way to live. It’s not about being selfish; it’s about understanding that you cannot pour from an empty cup.

It’s essential to let go of the notion that being good equates with self-sacrifice. It doesn’t. Your well-being matters just as much as anyone else’s, and setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary part of life.

If you can stop putting yourself last and start taking care of your own needs, your life will become more fulfilling. You won’t feel the constant strain of trying to please everyone else.

You will be able to give up on the unhealthy aspects of being a “good” person.

4) Being “good” can lead to inauthenticity

This realization was a turning point for me.

Striving to be a “good” person often means molding ourselves to fit into certain socially accepted parameters. The danger here is, in our quest to be good, we may end up being inauthentic.

Let’s break this down.

Imagine you’re in a situation where expressing your true thoughts or feelings might offend someone or make them uncomfortable. To be “good,” you might suppress your authentic self and put on a facade. Over time, this can lead to a feeling of disconnection from your true self and dissatisfaction with your life.

If we’re going to live fulfilling lives, it’s vital to accept that authenticity trumps goodness. It’s not about being deliberately hurtful or insensitive; it’s about understanding that being true to ourselves is vital for our mental and emotional health.

It’s important to let go of the idea that being good means always pleasing others. It doesn’t. Your authenticity is more important than fitting into someone’s definition of good.

If you can stop suppressing your authentic self in the name of being good and start expressing yourself honestly, your life will become more satisfying. You won’t feel the constant strain of trying to meet everyone’s expectations.

You will be able to give up on the societal pressure of being a “good” person and start embracing your authentic self.

I share more about this point in my video below.

YouTube video

5) The pursuit of “goodness” can lead to missed experiences

This particular insight came from a personal experience of mine.

In my younger years, I prided myself on being a “good” person. I followed the rules, I played it safe, I avoided any situations that could potentially be seen as morally ambiguous. I believed that by sticking to the straight and narrow path, I was setting myself up for a fulfilling life.

But one day, a friend invited me on a spontaneous road trip. It was completely unplanned, out of character for me, and, in my mind, not the “good” or responsible thing to do. I had work commitments and other responsibilities to consider.

After much internal struggle, I decided to break away from my usual “good” behavior and took the trip. It turned out to be an eye-opening experience filled with adventure, meaningful conversations, and unforgettable memories.

If I had stayed in my comfort zone of being the “good” person, I would have missed out on this enriching experience.

From then on, I realized that sticking rigidly to being “good” can limit you from experiencing life to the fullest. It’s not about being irresponsible or reckless; it’s about understanding that sometimes taking risks and breaking away from convention can lead to growth and self-discovery.

Now, instead of always choosing the “good” option, I make choices that align with my desires and values. Sometimes they are unconventional or risky. But these are the choices that have led to some of my most valuable life experiences.

6) The concept of “goodness” is historically variable

The idea of being “good” is not a universal constant. It has shifted and evolved throughout human history, reflecting the changing norms and values of different societies.

Consider this:

In ancient Sparta, a warrior society, goodness was equated with physical strength, bravery, and martial prowess. In contrast, many modern Western societies value traits like kindness, empathy, and generosity as markers of a “good” person.

Even within the same society, what’s considered “good” can change dramatically over time. For example, hundreds of years ago, it was considered “good” to punish criminals by public flogging or execution. Today, most societies view such practices as barbaric.

Understanding this historical variability helps us recognize that our current societal view of “goodness” is not absolute or unchangeable. It’s a socially constructed ideal that reflects our current cultural norms and values.

This realization frees us from the pressure to conform to a rigid ideal of goodness. Instead, we can define for ourselves what being “good” means, based on our own values and beliefs rather than societal expectations.

7) Being “good” can hinder true morality

At first glance, this may seem contradictory. After all, isn’t being “good” the epitome of morality? However, when we dig a little deeper, an interesting perspective emerges.

Striving to be “good” often means adhering to a predefined set of rules or norms. This can become problematic when it leads to blind adherence, without considering the context or consequences of our actions.

For instance, think about a situation where telling a lie would spare someone’s feelings or prevent harm. In this case, the “good” action according to societal norms (telling the truth) may not be the morally right thing to do.

True morality involves empathy, understanding, and consideration of context. It’s about making decisions that result in the greatest overall good, even if those decisions don’t align with conventional ideas of what it means to be “good.”

By letting go of the need to be “good” in the conventional sense, we open ourselves up to a more nuanced understanding of morality. We free ourselves to make decisions based on empathy and understanding rather than rigid rules, leading to more compassionate and ethical actions.

Bottom line: It’s about personal growth

The essence of life lies not in being “good” by societal standards, but in continuous personal growth and self-discovery.

An interesting psychological approach to consider here is Carl Rogers’ concept of the “fully functioning person.” This concept refers to individuals who are open to new experiences, live in the present moment, trust their own decision-making abilities, and are able to lead lives that are true to themselves.

For Rogers, the fully functioning person is not necessarily a traditionally “good” person. Instead, they are someone who embraces their individuality, accepts their flaws, and continuously strives for personal growth.

This idea encourages us to let go of rigid societal expectations of “goodness” and instead focus on becoming more authentic and self-aware individuals.

In the pursuit of being “good”, we may lose sight of who we truly are. But by embracing our unique selves and making decisions based on our own values, we can lead more fulfilling lives.

Whether it’s choosing authenticity over conformity, setting boundaries for self-care, or allowing ourselves to learn from unconventional choices, giving up on being a “good” person can be a liberating journey towards becoming our best selves.

Bottom line: Being “good” is a subjective concept

The concept of being a “good” person is deeply subjective, varying significantly across different cultures, societies, and individuals.

Often, the pressure to be “good” stems from societal expectations that are rooted in cultural norms and values. Psychologists have found that this constant endeavor to meet external standards can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lower sense of self-worth.

While it’s admirable to strive for kindness, empathy, and generosity, it’s equally important to prioritize your own happiness and well-being. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

At the end of the day, remember that being authentic and true to yourself holds more value than striving to fit into an idealized image of goodness. It’s okay to prioritize your needs, set boundaries, and make choices that align with your values—even if they don’t always align with others’ expectations.

The journey of self-discovery and personal growth involves embracing all aspects of yourself, including your flaws. After all, it’s our imperfections that make us human. It might not always make you a “good” person in everyone’s eyes, but it will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.

So let’s reevaluate our understanding of what it means to be a “good” person. Perhaps it’s time we gave up on trying to meet external standards of goodness and instead focused on being good to ourselves.

Break Free From Limiting Labels and Unleash Your True Potential

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